Celebrities Who Narrowly Escaped Death


Damage from the 2004 tsunami.

Damage from the 2004 tsunami.


Drew Barrymore


In 2001, Drew Barrymore and her then-fiancé Tom Green were sleeping inside their mansion just outside Beverly Hills. Their house was on a canyon when suddenly a fire started in the canyon and was creeping up towards their place. Barrymore and Green were sound asleep but they were awaken by her dog Flossie, barking loudly and scratching profusely at the door. When they went to see what the dog wanted their house was already starting to burn. Thankfully, all three of them escaped without being seriously injured. Unfortunately, the mansion was burned completely down. The fire was so big it took 50 fire fighters to put it out. They never figured out how it got started either. It was a close call, usually when people are asleep when their house is on fire they could die from the smoke inhalation without ever knowing. 


Johnny Rotten 


Johnny Rotten is the stage name of the pioneer punk rocker John Lydon. He was the lead singer of the band The Sex Pistols. In 1988, him and his wife Nora were suppose to catch a flight from London to New York. Nora wasn’t done packing in time and they both missed their flight. Reportedly this caused a huge fight between them but they just booked the next available flight. Later, they found out that their original flight exploded over Scotland because a bomb went off in its hold. Everyone onboard passed away. When asked about this Lydon said that when he and his wife found this out they “nearly collapsed.”


Jet Li 


The actor Jet Li was vacationing in Maldives, a country in South Asia, when they were hit with the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami of 2004. What happened was, a huge undersea megathrust earthquake with a magnitude of 9.1-9.3, sent a massive 100 foot tsunami wave to the coasts of the Indian Ocean. It hit 14 countries and killed 227,898 people. The earthquake was the third largest in recorded history. It was so big it vibrated the whole planet as much as 0.4 inches and caused other earthquakes as far away as Alaska. 

When Jet Li saw the water coming he grabbed his family and ran as fast as he could. When he moved just a couple of feet the water was up to his waist. By the time they reached his hotel, they were literally swimming to get there. They put life jackets on and braced for more tidal waves. Fortunately, Li and his family survived the tragic event. Afterwards the movie star donated $150,000 for relief funds. 


Nate Berkus


The celebrity interior designer from the Oprah Winfrey Show, Nate Burkus and his partner at the time Fernando Bengoechea, were also affected by the tsunami in 2004. They were vacationing in Sri Lanka when they too had to run for their lives. They ended up having to hold onto a telephone pole for dear life. Sadly, Fernando was swept away from the water and passed away. Berkus survived the incident and still has pictures of Fernando in his house. 


Fats Domino 


Fats Domino was an American pianist that sold millions of records, 35 of which made it to the US Top 40.  He was an American musical icon. In the 1980’s he moved to New Orleans. In 2005, Fats Domino decided he wasn’t going to leave for Hurricane Katrina, instead he’d ride it out because his wife was ill at the time. He was 77 years old. After the storm someone had spray painted on his mansion door “RIP Fats. You will be missed” and it was rumored he was dead. But days later the news broke that he and his family made it and were rescued. However, they lost their house and all of their belongings. One of those precious belongings was Fats’ National Medal of Arts he received for his accomplishments. It is the highest award given to artists by the US government. President George W. Bush gave him another medal to replace the one he lost. 


Elizabeth Taylor & Kirk Douglas

Elizabeth Taylor and Kirk Douglas were both A-list movie stars back in the classical cinema era of Hollywood in the 1950’s. In 1958, Mike Todd, the third husband of Elizabeth Taylor and a successful film and theater producer, took his private plane to New York. He was going to accept an award there. Elizabeth Taylor wanted to go with him but she had a bad cold. She tried to convince him to bring her along but he ultimately refused. Mike Todd then called up Kirk Douglas and begged him to come along for the fun. Douglas was apprehensive and allegedly Mike Todd jokingly said “he wouldn’t let the plane crash.” Douglas didn’t end up going but screen writer Art Cohn did. The plane did crash and killed everyone on board. Todd and Cohn died along with the pilot and co-pilot. The plane’s engines failed mid air and they crashed in New Mexico. It was a tragic event that shook the Hollywood community. 


Elvis Presley 

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The Rock and Roll King, Elvis Presley, almost never made it past infancy. In 1936, tornadoes ripped through Georgia and went on for four days straight, reaping havoc in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee. It was a storm like no other. It killed 466 people, injured thousands and destroyed everything in its path. It was one of the worst natural disasters in US history. The worst spot hit was Tupelo, Mississippi, where one year old Elvis and his family lived. Over half the people killed in the disaster was in Tupelo. The tornado that hit that area was estimated to be a F5, which is the highest rating of tornadoes. These massive twisters have winds over 200 mph and can easily rip houses from their foundations. Fortunately for the world, Baby Elvis and his family survived the disaster. Of course, he would later go on to become the most iconic American musician, before tragically passing away in 1977 when he was just 42 years old. 


Ryan Reynolds 


Ryan Reynolds is a very popular Hollywood actor today. He is probably best known for playing the foul-mouthed superhero Deadpool in the Marvel franchise. When Reynolds was just 17 he has a close call with death he would never forget. Reynolds liked to go sky diving in his youth. One day on a jump he pulled his parachute cord but nothing happened. He pulled it again but still nothing. Panic overtook Reynolds as he remembered he had an emergency shoot. He was terrified to pull it in case that didn’t work either. In an interview Reynolds said; “I’m up there thinking, ‘when I pull this reserve and nothing happens, that’s it - I’m alive but I’m already dead’,” He continued. “Physically I cannot release that reserve because I don’t want to find out if it’s going to work or not.” Reynolds eventually regained his composure and pulled his reserve parachute and it did work. He landed safely on the ground. Shortly after that, Reynolds decided to quit sky diving because his instructor passed away on a jump. 


George Clooney


In 2005, movie star George Clooney was filming a scene for the film Syriana, in which he was tied to a chair. Clooney hit his head really hard on the ground when he fell over in the scene. The fall caused terrible painful headaches and memory loss. He went to several doctors and specialists but they couldn’t find anything physically wrong with him. All they could do was offer him powerful pain medication. Clooney refused to take the opiates because of addiction in his family. He became very angry and depressed as he struggled to deal with the constant pain. Clooney had suicidal thoughts because he almost gave up hope. 

Finally, after a whole year after the injury, a neurologist discovered that Clooney torn his dura mater, the outermost meningeal layer around his brain and spinal cord. After a series of operations the pain and memory loss went away and Clooney could live a normal life again. 


Michael J. Fox 


Michael J. Fox, the star of the critically acclaimed Back to the Future series, almost died while filming Back to the Future III. In a scene where his character was being hanged, Fox wanted to do it without standing on a box to get a real looking reaction. He protected his throat with his hands so he wouldn’t get hurt. After two successful rehearsals of the stunt, they were ready to film it. After “action” was called Fox’s hands slipped and he was actually being hanged. He lost consciousness before they got him down. Fox survived the incident but unfortunately was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a year after the movie’s release when he was just 29 years old. Today he is 58 years old and started the Michael J. Fox Foundation to raise money to fund more research into Parkinson’s disease. 

Peter O'Melia